On the Ground: New York’s JFK Airport presented the usual hustle and bustle as I parked my vehicle, with Global Traveler CEO Francis X. Gallagher in the passenger seat. We were flying together to the Middle East, first stop Cairo, to meet with clients. Originally we planned to use off-site parking, but a heavy rainstorm altered our plans, and we parked in the covered garage near the International Terminal entrance. We collected our luggage and made our way to the EgyptAir check-in counter. Fran had checked us both in the evening prior, and the friendly EgyptAir staff greeted us, reviewed our destination and checked our bags quickly.
We unfortunately did not have EgyptAir club access pre-flight but checked to be sure. We proceeded through security, which in JFK’s International Terminal turned into a game of ever-rolling bins without order and hastily making sure all our items were together in the end. At boarding time we were ushered to a separate line for priority seating; passing by the rest of the plane’s passengers, I noticed quite a few families and groups. We made our way onto the Boeing 777-300, where a pleasant flight attendant escorted us to our seats.
Pre-Flight: We were seated in the first row, which offered additional room and, as advised by EgyptAir staff, would offer a quiet alternative to the back of the section where many families sat. Amenity kits, headphones, a bottle of water and pillow and blanket awaited at our seats. The seats were spacious and comfortable, and the staff took our coats to avoid wrinkles and arranged our bags above in the storage compartment. EgyptAir does not provide alcohol, but attendants greeted us with fresh juice options as we settled in. I chose the orange as it was approaching flu season, and any vitamin C boost is helpful. After takeoff, I found the navigation screen useful to keep track of the time and our location en route to Cairo.
In-Flight: Each seat was equipped with a screen for onboard entertainment, and I enjoyed a great documentary about the Valley of the Kings and the pyramids. The visuals and information were inspiring and prepared me for our upcoming activities and meetings in Egypt. Other movies were available in English and Arabic for passengers to peruse. Our flight was in the evening, so we were served dinner right away. The flight attendants came around with a service cart and presented the options as each course was served. I would have liked to see a menu for review so I could know what was included in each dish, but the attendants answered most of my questions. EgyptAir offers culinary options for various religious-based dietary restrictions or allergies; you just have to inform the staff before your flight. The meal itself was delicious; I enjoyed a delightful shrimp cocktail and selected the beef as my entrée. We finished the meal with coffee, a selection of cheeses and nuts and dessert.
During our flight we experienced a terrifying bout of heavy turbulence. This sometimes happens while crossing the Atlantic, but Fran asked me if my seat belt was secure, so I knew my fear was justified. Luckily, we passed through safely.
My hunger satisfied, I reclined my seat, which was almost completely flat, and enjoyed the soft blanket. The ceiling in the cabin was dimmed, and aisle lighting looked like the night sky full of stars. This encouraged a peaceful slumber, and I woke to breakfast being served before we reached Cairo. The breakfast was delicious, with our coffee accompanied by reading materials. Prior to landing we received a simple form to fill out for immigration. The experience was overall pleasant for an almost- 11-hour flight, and Egypt itself proved a magical destination of wonder and history.
◆ If you enjoy wine or Champagne on your flights, as I do, have no fear. Though EgyptAir does not sell alcohol on flights, you are permitted to purchase alcohol in the airport and bring it aboard. The staff can store it and serve it to you in flight.
◆ If you have dietary restrictions, it may be best to pre-request a menu so you are fully aware of the culinary features on your flight. There is no printed menu in business class.
◆ The staff provided clever stickers for each seat which passengers could use to inform crew of requests to be awakened for meals, not disturbed and so on. A great, simple add-on.
TAP Air Portugal is adding 15 new weekly flights from the United States and Canada by summer 2020, a new record for the carrier of 71 weekly flights between North America and Portugal.
Southwest Airlines is adding new flights to, from and within Hawai’i, beginning mid-January 2020. The airline will add a new daily service between Sacramento International Airport and Honolulu (HON), plus new non-stop flights between Oakland (OAK) and San Jose (SJC) and both Kauai (LIH) and the Island of Hawai’i (KOA).
The Luxury Collection welcomes its eighth property in China with the opening of Na Lotus Hotel, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Nanning. The property is situated in the capital of the Guangxi Province, in a high-rise landmark building in the business district.
United Airlines announces a number of new routes.
WalletHub compared the 100 largest U.S. cities across 24 key metrics to determine the best destinations for an upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. The brand’s study found the estimated cost for an American to attend Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, is $5,000. Munich boasts a $1.43 billion annual economic impact on Munich. During Oktoberfest, nearly 2 million gallons of beer are consumed and more than 510,000 whole roast chickens eaten.
Welcome to Rhodes, a medieval treasure beautifully preserved throughout the centuries. Rhodes is the capital of the Dodecanese, an island ideal not only for those who want to relax, but also for those looking for an action-packed holiday! With its bright green hills, rich green valleys and uninterrupted line of golden beaches, Rhodes is truly a blessed place. “The sun island” has more sunshiny days and milder temperatures throughout the year than any other location in Greece. It is, after all, one of the country’s easternmost places and among the first to welcome summer on its impressive beaches. Add in the excellent facilities for tourism, the island’s special blend of cosmopolitan and traditional, and numerous cultural and archaeological sites, the most important being the Medieval (Old) Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and you’ve got the perfect holiday destination. While on Rhodes, don’t miss a daytrip to nearby Sými. An island of sponge divers and seamen, Sými used to have 30,000 inhabitants before the Second World War and was the richest island in the Dodecanese, despite its small size. Today, Sými attracts many visitors thanks to its beautifully preserved Neo-Classical buildings and the famous Archangel Michael monastery at Panormitis.
Qantas will start using a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on its Sydney–Santiago route starting in late June 2020.